Order of Honour recipients celebrated at gala

Thirteen exceptional engineers and PEO licence holders were invested into PEO’s Order of Honour on April 20 during the association’s annual general meeting weekend in Toronto. The inductees were recognized by PEO and their peers for their long-time volunteer leadership at both the chapter and association levels and their contributions to the engineering profession.

Christopher D. Roney, P.Eng., BDS, FEC, was inducted as a Companion of the Order, while John Bray, P.Eng., FEC, David Filer, P.Eng., FEC, Santosh Gupta, PhD, P.Eng., FEC, Rishi Kumar, P.Eng., FEC, Changiz Sadr, P.Eng., FEC, and Jeanette M. Southwood, P.Eng., FEC, were invested as Officers. Another six recipients—Galal Abdelmessih, P.Eng., FEC, Andrew Dowie, P.Eng., FEC, Georg Kralik, P.Eng., FEC, Lisa MacCumber, P.Eng., Stela Stevandic, P.Eng., FEC, and Derek Van Ee, P.Eng., FEC—were inducted as Members.

The evening was attended by several special guests, including Annette Bergeron, P.Eng., FEC, then president-elect, and Gerard McDonald, P.Eng., CEO, Engineers Canada; Sandro Perruzza, CEO, Ontario Society of Professional Engineers; Bob McDonald, executive director and registrar, and Stormy Holmes, president-elect, Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan; Len White, CEO and registrar, and Rosalie Hanlon, director of outreach and partnerships, Engineers Nova Scotia; Andrew Cook, president, Engineering Student Societies’ Council of Ontario; Jane Welsh, president, and Aina Budrevics, executive director, Ontario Association of Landscape Architects; Kathleen Kurtin, senior vice president and treasurer, Ontario Association of Architects; Marisa Sterling, president and chair, Ontario Professional Engineers Foundation for Education; Bruce Matthews, CEO, and Rex Meadley, chair, Consulting Engineers Ontario; Boris Martin, CEO, Engineers Without Borders Canada; and Anna Kavanagh and Colin Harker of Order of Honour gala sponsor TD Insurance.

John Severino, P.Eng., chair of PEO’s Awards Committee and himself a Member of the Order of Honour, was emcee for the awards presentations. “Tonight, we celebrate those who, through their voluntary service to Professional Engineers Ontario, have helped shape the association and the engineering profession,” he said during his welcome speech. “As we pay tribute to this year’s 13 honourees, we recognize those whose selfless work has helped to strengthen our self-regulated profession. Through their diligent efforts, tonight’s inductees have made significant impact on engineering in their own communities, throughout our province and across the country. It is this professional attitude and service to the profession that distinguishes each of those we invest into the Professional Engineers Ontario Order of Honour.”

The following are selections from the award recipients’ acceptance speeches:

“Ladies and gentlemen, from the bottom of my heart, I have to say this is the absolute pinnacle of my volunteer career. To be inducted into the Order of Honour alongside so many other worthy recipients, both tonight and in years past, is a huge honour and has left me speechless—okay you’re not getting off that easy!

I would like to thank my friends, colleagues and fellow volunteers who so kindly chose to nominate me. I will never forget that. And I’d like to thank the Awards Committee for selecting me for this great honour.

I have already been so rewarded because I’ve had the privilege and honour over these past 20 years to learn so much from so many incredible people, many of whom are in this room tonight.

To have played a part in some monumental events in our profession has been a huge privilege for me. I’m so grateful for PEO to have given me these opportunities. And PEO really is all of us, for we, the members, are PEO.

I would like to extend a special thanks to my father, who is here tonight. He too is an engineer and has been my mentor both in my engineering work and in my volunteerism. He has guided and supported me and continues to do so, and I’m very grateful.”
Christopher D. Roney, P.Eng., BDS, FEC (Companion)

“We in this room are privileged to be members of an incredibly complex profession. As engineers, we contribute to society in myriad ways that most people have no idea about and, frankly, take for granted. From the infrastructure needs of an ordered functioning society to the products we buy and the medical devices used to cure us and keep us healthy, engineers usually take a lead role and perform remarkably. I feel safe in saying the society can’t live without us. Buckminster Fuller once said that, and I’ll paraphrase, ‘If we took all of the politicians out to sea on a barge and sunk it, the world would go on much the same as it had. If, on the other hand, we took all the engineers in the world out to sea on a barge and sunk it, the effect on society would be traumatic.”

We perform our duties with little fanfare and it’s likely that we aren’t adequately rewarded. Nevertheless, we love what we do and most of us couldn’t imagine spending our lives doing anything else.”
John Bray, P.Eng. (Officer)

“It is a great honour to receive this award for volunteering. Supporting PEO through volunteerism ensures we have a strong engineering voice in Ontario. To support PEO in its mission for high practice standards has been a great experience for me personally and professionally. It has influenced my work and assisted me in my dealing with my clients and the public—and it all happens because of the hard work of the [Complaints] Committee and its members. I have a deep admiration for my fellow committee members and PEO staff. They consistently demonstrate commitment to ensure the highest standards of engineering practice are maintained with a clear vision of the committee’s purpose. I was deeply honoured when I learned I was selected to be invested in the Order of Honour. I appreciate the nominations and all the work from fellow members. For my small contribution, it is quite humbling to be here tonight in the presence of other recipients.

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude for my colleagues and to my wife, Corinne, and son Jameson, who are here tonight. Thank you.”
David Filer, P.Eng., FEC (Officer)

“I am delighted to be inducted into PEO’s Order of Honour. I thank PEO for recognizing my 22 years of humble service to the profession. My gratitude and sincere thanks to my nominators: Yoga Ranee Mahalingam, Andrew Hrymak, James McConnach, Patrick Quinn and Mohinder Grover. I want all of them to know that I have learned a lot from them over the years and I remain grateful for the ways each of them has influenced my professional and volunteer careers.

I’d like to share with you a harsh reality. In 1970, when I arrived from India with my wife and child, we had two suitcases and $50. Arriving at the University of Waterloo for my PhD, I had a modest scholarship that was barely enough to keep us going and the time kept running. So, whatever I am today it is because of my profession. This has been the sole motivator for me to give back whatever I can to my profession and I intend to keep doing this through my volunteering services to the profession. Thank you.”
Santosh Gupta, PhD, P.Eng., FEC (Officer)

“I would like to thank you for being here and sharing this award with me. I’m very honoured to receive this award for the spirit of volunteerism that is alive in all of us. It is the opportunity to volunteer that makes PEO great. I am sincerely grateful for the recommendation I received today for my work.

Volunteering at PEO and other organizations inspired me to get involved, to build my skills and make some great friends. Along the way it provided an opportunity for me to learn from others, meet role models and take on leadership opportunities. I have faced several challenges but I turned them into opportunities that made me who I am today—a professional knowing exactly my goals and how to get there. I have deep respect for my colleagues, from whom I derived the strength to meet challenges. In closing, I would like to thank all of you and end with a quote: ‘We make a living in what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’”
Rishi Kumar, P.Eng., FEC (Officer)

“Good evening. I am honoured to receive this award. First, I would like to thank my nominators, specifically George Comrie and David Kiguel, and the Awards Committee and PEO Council for recognizing me and giving me this award. Second, I would like to thank my family, my daughters, my sons and my grandchildren for their support. And, last but not least, I would like to thank my best friend for over 42 years, my wife, Jayran. Without her support and her unconditional love, I wouldn’t have been able to stand here tonight. Thank you, Jayran. I love you!”
Changiz Sadr, P.Eng., FEC (Officer)

“I’m a first-generation engineer and during my career, I particularly appreciated the welcome when I began to volunteer for the profession, beginning with my local chapter, which was very active and open and welcoming to new ideas and new volunteers. Coincidentally, the chair of my local chapter at the time was Gordon Sterling, after whom the Sterling Award is named.

Thank you very much to PEO for the opportunities to contribute and for this wonderful evening that shines a light on our profession. Thank you to the Awards Committee and to the organizers of this event. And special thanks to the chapters and committees of PEO. Thank you to my colleagues in my work life and volunteer life, including my nominators: Marta Ecsedi, Paul Ballantyne, Catherine Karakatsanis, Ray Linseman and Cam Mirza.

And thank you to my family and friends for their support, encouragement and far-sightedness. As a co-worker, volunteer, family member, friend, I have been influenced by your leadership and vision, and I wouldn’t be up here tonight if it wasn’t for you.”
Jeanette M. Southwood, P.Eng., FEC (Officer)

“Last year I attended the gala as a delegate for the Mississauga Chapter, the chapter to which I belong and where I have served on the Executive Committee since 2008. I really appreciate the opportunity that PEO gives its members to volunteer and be part of governing and shaping our profession. It’s a great privilege that we should recognize as a privilege. It is not a right but something that we are lucky to have for our profession. We must act in such a way to make our profession the profession we would like and will be proud to belong to now and in the future. A lot of work is needed. Engineers today are the hope for the world’s future. I have enjoyed volunteering at the chapter and PEO levels. At the chapter level I participated with the board and we served the profession as the chapter was designed to do.”
Galal Abdelmessih, P.Eng., FEC (Member)

“Good evening everyone and thank you for being here tonight. It is a privilege and honour to be here among so many accomplished and respected engineers. I can’t believe I’m here tonight; it’s truly a night I never expected to happen. I did some research on other Windsor-Essex Chapter members who have achieved this and there are only about a dozen over the course of my time on Earth who have been named to the Order of Honour and it’s a great privilege to be among them. I’m privileged to count many of them as my friends. It’s such a great family that we have—especially at the chapter level. The Windsor-Essex Chapter is truly a family to me and many are here tonight, which I really appreciate. In some ways it’s a tough night for me. My father, James Dowie, would have loved to have been here. He considered engineering to be a truly noble profession and many of his friends were engineers, including some Order of Honour inductees. Unfortunately, he passed away late last year, but he would have been so proud to be here today. He always let me know what a noble calling engineering is.” 
Andrew Dowie, P.Eng., FEC (Member)

“I want to thank the PEO Awards Committee for bestowing me with this prestigious award and all my friends and colleagues who have found me worthy of this nomination. Many have asked me who encouraged me to become an engineer. After all, few of us get rich and we live in relative obscurity until something goes wrong. The most obvious answer is ‘my father made me do it.’ In the early 1950s, I was about six or seven and my father decided to teach me about thermal expansion on structural members, just by using a simple wooden matchstick. It was a hot summer day, and he provided no explanation—he just let me figure it out for myself. At home, fortunately, I had access to a very extensive technical library and I had always been very curious as a child.

Volunteering at the North Toronto and the West Toronto chapters, I embraced education outreach by guiding kids to discover basic engineering principles for themselves—the way my father taught me. There is nothing more rewarding than watching their eyes light up when they finally understand abstract concepts and can visualize them in everyday situations.”
Georg Kralik, P.Eng., FEC (Member)

“I’m very honoured to be here tonight with all the other awardees. I’d like to thank all the women who nominated me, and the Awards Committee and PEO Council for selecting me as a Member and deeming me worthy of this honour. I’d also like to thank my husband, Chris, for letting me do my own thing and putting up with all my extracurricular activities and taking care of the dog when I’m not around. Also, thanks to my parents, for encouraging me to go into engineering and setting a good example helping with the community. When I was a kid, my father took me on tours of the water plant where he was an operator, to explain how the drinking water was treated. And his friends took me 2500 feet underground at the Inco, now Vale, mines in Sudbury. They showed me that engineering had a practical side and how cross-functional teams and input from operations make for a better design and better engineers.

I hope to continue volunteering as a new member of Council and to continue mentoring and promoting female engineers.”
Lisa MacCumber, P.Eng. (Member)

“Many thanks to London Chapter for nominating me and PEO for selecting me for this prestigious award. In years to come, I would like to join PEO Council, as I feel there are many enhancements we can do to our profession.”
Stela Stevandic, P.Eng., FEC (Member)